A virtual private network (VPN) is a secured communications channel implemented over shared, public networks – i.e. the internet – to connect remote users and machines to a private network – i.e. a company’s network. Privacy is achieved by authenticating the connecting parties and encrypting the communications channel to prevent eavesdropping on data traversing the channel.
VPN is most commonly used to enable remote access to a corporate network for employees working remotely. Strong authentication controls are typically enforced, to protect the corporate network against unauthorized access.
The two main types of remote access VPNs in use are client-based VPN and SSL VPN. Client-based VPN requires a dedicated client software to establish the secure connection. Once setup, the host machine operates as if it were running locally on the company network. SSL VPN uses a standard web browser as the VPN client. The secure connection is setup between the browser and the SSL VPN gateway, which means only web-enabled applications can be securely accessed (i.e. webmail, intranet, etc.).
VPN can be implemented using any number of standard protocols. Commonly used protocols include:
- Internet Protocol Security (IPsec)
- Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS)
- Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS)
- Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption (MPPE)
- Microsoft Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)
- Multi Path Virtual Private Network (MPVPN)
- Secure Shell (SSH) VPN
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are hugely popular among companies and organizations that want to give their employees remote access to their private servers. By creating secure connections between remote nodes and your servers, VPNs solve some very important problems, such as preventing hackers from finding and breaking into your servers while enabling your employees to securely access their corporate files and applications from anywhere, such as preventing hackers from finding and breaking into your servers while enabling your employees to securely access their corporate files and applications from anywhere.